From the read-alouds, drawing, and shared storytelling of Pre-Kindergarten to analytical discussions around the eighth grade English table, our students are actively engaged every day as readers and writers. Literacy learning at Brookwood is founded on a shared belief that both strong skills and the knowledge and motivation to apply them purposefully are essential to global citizens of the 21st century.

We teach literacy in a structured, research-based continuum that includes reading, writing, vocabulary, discussion and public speaking, listening, phonics/spelling/word study, grammar, manuscript and cursive writing, and keyboarding. Our Information Management Skills thread focuses on developmentally appropriate research skills at each grade level, and our older students explore media literacy.

We immerse our children in literature that celebrates both tradition and diversity, and our students write in a variety of genres, making reader/writer connections by apprenticing themselves to the authors and texts they love.

Extraordinary resources support us. Our central and classroom libraries abound with new and noteworthy titles, and The Dodge Writing Center provides materials to support and enrich the writing process that takes place in our classrooms. It is a comfortable place for reflection and presentation where students can brainstorm, compose, revise, and publish their work. Its camera-based projector offers access to the internet, multimedia tools, display of written work, digital presentation, and group book sharing – all on the Center’s 8’x10’ screen. A studio platform with stage lighting and microphone enhance oral interpretation and performance.

The Center coordinates valued Brookwood traditions such as the Harold W. Wise Declamation Contest – an opportunity for students in grades 4-8 to select, analyze, memorize, and perform poetry. In partnership with the Library, the Center facilitates “One School, One Book." This annual project enhances our culture of reading by bringing the community together around one resonant book. The Center Director also sponsors writing contests and recognitions, publishes the school literary magazines and Upper School ‘zine, and offers both enrichment and support for students and faculty.

Literacy Curricular Goals
In general, the Literacy Department seeks to have Brookwood students:

  • Move along a continuum of literacy skills, increasing independence
  • Make meaning from written texts and in their own writing
  • Regard literature and life attentively and purposefully
  • Read, speak, and write about literature that reflects diverse cultures, genres, and perspectives
  • Follow the writing process purposefully to compose in a variety of real-world and academic genres for a variety of audiences
  • Develop and practice a habit of mind that builds an increasingly rich vocabulary
  • Build toward accuracy and self-reliance in using the conventions of spoken and written English

The goal of the Lower School Literacy curriculum is to support children in viewing themselves as readers and writers. Teachers support students in making meaning from texts. The ability to read and comprehend texts is expanded through talking and writing. Writing is an important process we use to communicate with others.

Early literacy experiences emphasize significant, developmentally-appropriate content and outcomes. We believe that young children learn in a continually evolving process and that their growth is best seen along a continuum of development. Spelling and the mechanics of writing are tools to facilitate the making of meaning.

Mentor work for curriculum design and implementation includes that of Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell, Lucy Calkins, Katie Wood Ray, and Regie Routman.

Grade Level Curricular Goals and Focal Points
At each respective grade level, our goal is to have students:

In Reading

  • Enjoy listening to and talking about books that reflect diverse cultures, genres, and perspectives
  • Understand that print carries a message
  • Engage in reading attempts
  • Identify labels and signs in the classroom environment
  • Participate in rhyming games
  • Identify some letters and make some letter-sound matches
  • Ask questions about and use new vocabulary from conversation and read-aloud texts

In Writing

  • Possess a sense of self as writer and illustrator
  • Tell stories of their own lives and experiences as well as of their imaginings
  • Create shared and interactive stories
  • Use known letters or approximations of letters to represent written language
  • Strengthen fine motor development
  • Engage in writing attempts

In Reading

  • Enjoy being read to and retell simple narrative stories or informational texts that reflect diverse cultures, genres, and perspectives
  • Recognize letters and letter-sound matches
  • Show familiarity with rhyming and beginning sounds
  • Understand left-to-right and top-to-bottom orientation and familiar concepts of print
  • Match spoken words with written words

In Writing

  • Begin to write letters of the alphabet and some high-frequency words
  • Choose topics to tell, draw, and label
  • Use descriptive language to explain and explore
  • Follow the writing process with increased independence

Grade One
In Reading

  • Read and retell familiar stories that reflect diverse cultures, genres, and perspectives
  • Use strategies (rereading, predicting, questioning, contextualizing) for comprehension
  • Read orally with fluency measured by standardized benchmarks
  • Use letter-sound associations, word parts, and context to identify new words
  • Identify an increasing number of words by sight

In Writing

  • Sound out and represent all substantial sounds in spelling a word
  • Write about topics that are personally meaningful
  • Write for a variety of audiences in several genres
  • Practice strategies for elaboration
  • Attempt to use some punctuation and capitalization

Grade Two
In Reading

  • Read with greater fluency books that reflect diverse cultures, genres, and perspectives
    Improve fluency and expression through independent and guided reading
  • Gain confidence in and improve comprehension through small group discussion
  • Use word identification strategies with greater facility to unlock unknown words
  • Identify an increasing number of words by sight
  • Spend time reading daily and use reading to research topics

In Writing

  • Use common letter patterns and critical features to spell words
  • Write about a range of topics for a variety of audiences and purposes
  • Incorporate the qualities of genres more independently
  • Use authors and texts as mentors
  • Punctuate simple sentences correctly and proofread their own work

Grade Three
In Reading

  • Read fluently and enjoy reading texts that reflect diverse cultures, genres, and perspectives
  • Use a range of strategies when drawing meaning from a text
  • Use word identification strategies appropriately and automatically when encountering unknown words
  • Recognize and discuss elements of different text structures and features
  • Make critical connections between texts

In Writing

  • Write expressively in different genres and forms for various audiences and purposes
  • Craft using authors and texts as mentors
  • Use a variety of vocabulary and sentences appropriate to text forms
  • Revise and edit their own writing during and after composing
  • Use strategies for spelling words correctly in final drafts


Grade Four
In Reading

  • Read and discuss a variety of books that reflect diverse cultures, genres, and perspectives
  • Recognize and discuss character development, more complex plots, the role of setting, word choice, and some literary devices
  • Read to learn in various content areas
  • Practice active reading strategies
  • Expand commonly used, specialized, and complex vocabulary with context support from texts

In Writing

  • Bring characteristics of genres, knowledge of audience, and sense of purpose to writing
  • Craft choosing authors and texts as mentors
  • Develop an appreciation and aim for precise language
  • Revise and edit writing during and after composing
  • Attempt correct applications of learned conventions in final drafts

Grade Five
In Reading

  • Read and discuss literature with a focus on historical fiction
  • Access information and develop new concepts and ideas from reading
  • Provide specific examples and evidence to support statements about a text
  • Read to learn more closely in content areas
  • Read independently books that offer “Windows and Mirrors” (a variety of cultures and perspectives) for our own experience
  • Practice active reading strategies
  • Expand vocabulary with explicit word study and through reading

In Writing

  • Respond to curricular and independent reading
  • Write about reading though plot summaries, comics, book reviews, etc.
  • Write in various genres using authors and texts as mentors
  • Reflect more precise language and sentence variety
  • Revise and edit writing during and after composing
  • Approach correct applications of learned conventions in final drafts


Grade Six
In Reading

  • Read with the sensitivity of a writer texts that reflect diverse cultures, genres, and perspectives
  • Sharpen factual and inferential comprehension skills
  • Demonstrate working knowledge of basic literary terms in speaking and writing
  • Analyze character and plot development, setting, theme, and overall craft with substantiation from texts
  • Practice learned reading strategies (active reading, prediction, inference, visualization, questioning)
  • Read independently for pleasure 
  • Expand vocabulary with explicit study of words in context

In Writing

  • Write with the sensitivity of a reader
  • Write in a variety of real-world and academic genres
  • Practice variations of sentence construction
  • Craft thoughtful personal, persuasive, and analytical paragraphs and essays
  • Study and apply basic rules of standard written English
  • Write with expanded and enriched working vocabulary
  • Self-evaluate effectively, recognizing errors and opportunities for revision in writing
  • Respond to teacher and peer feedback with effective revision

In Public Speaking

  • Practice use of important public speaking skills: eye contact, volume, pace, tone, 
  • expression, etc.
  • Memorize short pieces and poems to recite
  • Tell stories
  • Speak to persuade
  • Debate

Grade Seven
In Reading

  • Become a versatile reader of diverse genres, including short fiction, the novel, free verse poetry, journalism, and the nature essay.  
  • Use margin annotations to develop a personal conversation with a text that can be shared with others in discussion. 
  • Use close reading strategies, such as discerning figurative language, to summarize key passages in a text.
  • Use connections—for instance, between a story and historical information—to improve understanding of a text.  
  • Expand one’s engagement with a text by asking factual and interpretive questions. 
  • Use clues in a text to make logical inferences.
  • Develop a reader’s vocabulary and assess craft by learning and using key terms, such as symbolism and theme.       
  • Expand vocabulary with explicit word study of conceptually difficult words related to key texts.  
  • Choose texts that suit one’s level and interests to read for pleasure and practice.

In Writing

  • Become a versatile writer of real-world genres, including short fiction, free verse poetry, journalistic editorial, and the nature essay.  
  • Expand and document one’s thinking about literary texts by crafting well-organized and substantiated expository paragraphs.    
  • Use a variety of resources—including mentor texts, conferences with a teacher, peer review, and self-reflection—to develop and revise written drafts.  
  • Use principles of style, such as conciseness, to improve the clarity and elegance of one’s work.  
  • Use grammatical and mechanical conventions with increasing competence and   independence. 

Grade Eight
In Reading

  • Read actively: Annotate for challenging passages, vocabulary, and connections
  • Track and revise understanding through annotations, notes, and discussion
  • Read closely and interpretively, substantiating insights with evidence from the text
  • Use classroom language in expressing ideas about reading in writing and in discussion 
  • Seek role of narrative audience: become absorbed in narrative
  • Identify intended audience
  • Identify purpose of the writing
  • Think critically about reading, engaging in resistance and respect for the messages of the text
  • Track and work on one’s individual relationship with reading; seek a more meaningful and rewarding relationship

In Writing

  • Experience assessment in three genres: Narratives, Essays, and Poems
  • Learn and practice genre-specific conventions
  • Revise with the help of teacher conferencing, peer review, and response to purpose
  • Edit in response to audience, including requirements of assignment
  • Use informal writing to develop ideas for formal writing and class discussions.
  • Use a cover sheet to learn how to track writing goals and decisions.